Venezuela Probes TV Network Over Prison Riots

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Venezuelan authorities have opened an investigation into one of the country’s major news networks for its coverage of an ongoing prison crisis.

The National Telecommunications Commission of Venezuela announced that it had begun sanction proceedings against Caracas-based news channel Globovision, which it accuses of spreading “anxiety in the population” by broadcasting images of the El Rodeo prison crisis. Globovision now faces charges of violating the country’s Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television.

Peter Maldonado, director of Venezuela’s telecommunication agency, explained that Globovision could be subject to a fine of 10 percent of the gross income obtained in the previous fiscal year, and may have its transmission suspended for up to 72 hours.

Globovision, a station which is often openly critical of the Chavez government, has come under attack in the past. In 2009, the station’s headquarters were attacked by a mob loyal to the president and Chavez has previously accused the station of conspiring against his government.

The vice president of the news channel, María Fernanda Flores has accused the government of suppressing freedom of expression and claimed that the action is politically motivated.

This crisis in El Rodeo prison remains unresolved, despite government attempts to regain control of the prison complex, including the deployment of 5,000 police officers.

Since June 12, at least 29 people are believed to have been killed and over 1,000 prison inmates continue to battle security forces. The government has accused the opposition of being behind the riots.

Meanwhile, Venezuela’s Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Díaz, has announced the arrest of two high ranking prison officers along with the Captain of the National Guards, who face charges of delivering weapons to prisoners.

The news came as President Hugo Chavez revealed that he was suffering from cancer. He is currently in Cuba receiving treatment.

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